My name is Matthew Holland. I am the face of the '1 percent'. No, not that '1 percent', the other 1 percent, America's dirty little secret, the poorest of the poor, the sickest of the sick, the disabled, the beat down, the abused, the weak, the conveniently forgotten. I represent the bottom rung of American society. Those 50 million Americans, who, for whatever the reason, have struggled in life. I am their face, I am their voice, I am who they aim to be.
I never intended to live on the cusp of poverty, to acquire a disability, or to become a lien on American society. It just happened. It happened fast, it was unforgiving, it engulfed my entire mind, destroyed my entire body, ruined my life and threatened my very existence. I was once a successful small business owner. I was an American success story. I was a young man who survived five years of severe child abuse and arose to become president of his class and president of his college at Tulane University. I was a young man who traveled entirely around the world before the age of twenty-three. I was a young man who was heavily involved in community service, a young man who worked as an editor and a senior staff writer for the top collegiate newspaper in the nation. I was a young man who saw a window of opportunity, took a risk, and incorporated a small business. I was a young man who came from very little, but through education, commitment and a passion to succeed, achieved very much. I was a young man who was the spitting image of the American dream.
My American dream didn't last for long. In late 2004, my life flipped upside down because of an anxiety condition I developed called obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Through severe anxiety and five weeks of not sleeping, I developed a form of the disorder called Pure-O (purely obsessional). The illness flooded my brain with thousands of intrusive thoughts and images. It forced my mind into a sick loop of unforgiving repetition that attacked me every moment of everyday. It was a condition so severe, so out of order, so painful, and so intense, that I was constantly faced with a debate of whether or not to take my own life. Not because I wanted to kill myself, but because I needed to kill myself. The torture was that severe. Despite many efforts, no doctor would help, no hospital would help, no-one and nothing helped. I became a vegetable. I lost everything I was and everything I ever fought for. I lost my past, I lost my present and I lost my future. I fell into a never ending abyss of torture where I lived in constant fear and constant anguish.
Eventually, I found an RN that attempted to help me. Though she tried her best, I was misdiagnosed and given the controversial anti-psychotic drug called Risperdal. Despite the fact that Pure O was an unthinkable beast, Risperdal completely ruined my life. It not only failed to help my OCD, it prolonged accurate treatment for the disorder by nearly two years. At the same time, it created unimaginable side effects. One of these side-effects was gaining 120 pounds of fat in less than 18 months. From a lean 152 pound frame, I ballooned to almost 300 pounds and was classified with super morbid obesity.
After 18 months of seeing no progress and knowing that the only options were to continue being tortured or to kill myself, I found a doctor who could help. He cost $300 an hour and did not accept any insurance. After sorting out the mess of pills I was initially prescribed, he threw away the Risperdal and gave me Anafranil, a basic, tier one response to OCD. That decision saved my life. Within three weeks on the new medication, I became 50% better. Within three months, I was 75 percent better and within three years, I became 95% the person I once was.
I am sharing my story to finally put a real face and a real voice to what is known as "Romneycare" and "Obamacare". I am here to represent the people that are on it. I'm here to say that even though I had health insurance as a 24 year old entrepreneur, I was denied prescription drug coverage because I had a pre-existing condition. And even though I lived my life the right way; no drugs, no arrests, paid my bills, helped the community, represented my college, loved my mother and started a business, I found myself falling through the cracks of America's foundation.
I am here to say that times have improved under Barack Obama. In 2004, as a desperate 24 year old on the cusp of death, I could have used a program like Obamacare. It wasn't there for me. However, it is there today. It is here to protect the young and the poor from the abuses of healthcare providers and pharmaceutical giants that put profits before people. It is here to provide the less fortunate with a glimmer of hope. It is here to make sure no American, rich, poor, tall, short, black or white, will go through the things I did as a young man.
Obamacare is not perfect, but it is better than what we had before it was passed. And it is part of what the country desperately needs; a foundation. It needs a foundation not only based on economic recovery and the overall wealth of everyday Americans, but a foundation based on the overall health of everyday Americans. A foundation not based on corporate greed, but on compassion and empathy and economic efficiency. A foundation not based on who runs the House or who controls the Senate, but on a policy of doing the right thing for all Americans, not the top 1%, not the bottom 1%, but the full 100% of the citizens of our country.
Mitt Romney sees healthcare as an entitlement. He thinks that some people are entitled to it, and others are not. I see healthcare as an American birthright. It is a right that helps form the very fabric of American society as we know it. Healthcare, Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, SSD, SSI, and unemployment insurance are all the things that continue to make The United States a beacon for the rest of the world to follow. These programs are a safety net for sudden tragedy, a foothold for the disabled, a bridge for the jobless, and a chance for the helpless and the poor. These programs create a system that is built into the very fabric of what our nation stands for. A fabric that says, 'no matter who you are or where you come from it will catch you if you fall'. And it will catch you like it caught me. Even if you think you'll never need it, it is there if you do. Even if you are a successful entrepreneur, it is there if your business fails. Even if you are a survivor of medical malpractice and pharmaceutical greed, as an American you still have the safety net to help you get back on your feet. The fabric of our nation is not perfect. There are holes and patches that need to be fixed. But to throw away the very cloth that is our nation's safety net by attempting to build a new one from scratch is a risk no American can afford to take.
A vote for Mitt Romney, the main promoter of such a change, is taking this unaffordable risk. He is a man who with the stroke of a brush went around and painted a false picture for his constituents. He told his people that people like me are milking the system. That people like me think we are "entitled", that we think we deserve food, housing, and healthcare. He thinks that living on $552 a month is some sort of awesome existence. He says that people like me go around with crocodile tears telling everyone we are some sort of "victim".
What Mitt Romney says is complete nonsense. I'm not a victim Mitt, I'm a survivor. I'm not a victim Mitt, I'm a fighter. I'm not a victim Mitt, I'm an animal. I'm a beast that has always scrapped itself up when forced down. No matter what the challenge, no matter what the conditions, I have always found a way to survive. I have always found a way to excel. I'm a young man who not only challenges your tainted political views, but I'm a young man who will defend the rights of all Americans struggling to survive. I will defend their rights, so that one day each of them will have a shot, just like I have now.
Life on Romneycare and life on Obamacare is not a great time. It wasn't a great life, it was a piss poor life, but it was no less a life. It bought me the time I needed to recover, to find the right help, to retake what was stolen from me as a young entrepreneur. And since recovering from an extreme case of OCD, obesity and disability, I am back in business. From losing 120 pounds in one year on my own, I am on the verge of launching a social enterprise that will not only be profitable, but will help the poor and the disabled regain their health and their life through fitness.
In case starting a social enterprise is not enough to show Mitt Romney that I'm not a victim, I also created a 527 political organization called Do Your Job/Change Congress Now. I do not know how much money it will raise for Obama over the next 30 days, I do not know what influence our media content will have on the election, but I do know it's time for congress to change, it's time to make deals, it's time for American politicians to do their job. It's time for the far right and the far left to put down their guns, to meet at the front line and to compromise with each other.
I'm not a victim, I'm a fighter. I'm a fighter because it is the only life I've ever known and it's the only life I've ever lived. I fight for the person that I was and for the person that I aim to be. I fight for the guy on the street, for the mother of four that works 3 part-time jobs, and I fight for Barack Obama. I fight for Obama because Obama fought for me. It took eight years for the previous administration to bring America to its knees. Give Barack Obama the same eight years to bring us to our feet.